Trending Topics

Poll call: How often do you carry a backup gun on duty?

The results of a recent Police1 poll with over 1,000 responses may surprise – or disappoint – you


A backup gun should be considered mandatory personal protective equipment.

Photo/Todd Fletcher

When an officer carries a backup gun – more commonly known as a BUG – they’re essentially backing up their own safety and well-being while on duty.

However, the results of a recent Police1 poll with over 1,000 responses tells a different story. The results of the poll, which asked how often officers carry a backup gun on duty, didn’t surprise firearms instructor and Police1 columnist Todd Fletcher. Even worse, the results disappointed him.

“Looking at the results, 48% of those responding to the poll make a conscious decision to rarely or never carry a BUG,” Fletcher said. “If we add in the 9% who work for agencies that prohibit BUGs, then it means approximately 57% of all officers working today are not carrying a BUG.”

A BUG, according to Fletcher, should be considered mandatory personal protective equipment.

“Part of the reason many officers choose not to carry a BUG is because they don’t want to carry the extra weight,” he said. “These same officers add other items to their duty belts and external vest carriers, but they don’t prioritize a lifesaving tool like a lightweight BUG.”

Below, we breakdown the poll’s results, along with feedback from police officers in the field and resources to help every officer understand the importance of carrying a BUG on duty. And in the comment box below, we want to know: was there a time when your BUG saved you or your partner? Tell us your story and we’ll include it at the end of the article.


What police officers are saying

“Two backups every day. Maybe I’m paranoid, but better to have them than wishing you had one.”

“Currently don’t carry it. Looking for a new holster method for it.”

“Always. Glock 43 reachable with non-dominant hand.”

“Yep. I’d rather have it and not need it … than need it and not have it.”

“Our policy prohibits it.”

“Every shift. Glock 43, ankle. Department mandated with annual qualification.”

Additional resources

Check out these resources from our Police1 expert columnists, who collectively believe carrying a backup gun while on duty is a no-brainer.

Complete the form below to share your story about when your BUG saved you or your partner while on duty.

Sarah Calams, who previously served as associate editor of and, is the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Sarah delves deep into the people and issues that make up the public safety industry to bring insights and lessons learned to first responders everywhere.

Sarah graduated with a bachelor’s degree in news/editorial journalism at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Have a story idea you’d like to discuss? Send Sarah an email or reach out on LinkedIn.

The terms “cocaine psychosis” and “sudden in-custody death” will also be removed
“Great leadership is needed at more than just the bridge; it is needed at every level of the organization.”
Approach planning as if you were the criminal element
Corporal Lucas Watts survived being shot in the head through his cruiser windshield by a suspect